Trolley has its best year | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Trolley has its best year

Andy Bourelle

Transportation officials are feeling a little jolly; it was another good year for the Nifty “50” Trolley.

Despite cutbacks in the amount of times the Nifty “50” Trolley program was in operation, the number of people taking advantage of the program increased by 5.3 percent this year over 1997, according to Dick Powers, executive director of the South Shore Transportation Management Association.

“We cut off a week at the end of the season and an hour each day. We weren’t really looking to have any growth, but still we had some,” he said. “We feel very good about the season.”

The program was open for 81 days this summer, from June 19 to Sept. 7. It consisted of two trolley routes and another vehicle. Passengers could purchase a $2 all-day ticket and ride the motorized trolley.

The “A” route consisted of two trolleys traveling in a loop from Stateline to the “Y” and then to Camp Richardson. The “B” route traveled from Zephyr Cove to Stateline and then to the Heavenly Ski Resort tram. Each route had two trolleys and were timed so a trolley stopped at each location every hour. Another vehicle traveled from Camp Richardson to Emerald Bay.

“During peak hours, route ‘A’ was totally full. No one could get on unless someone got off,” Powers said.

That was the case on 34 of the 81 days. Although the number of users is good news, Powers said, changes will have to be made in order to accommodate more people next year.

“We need to do something about the capacity problem on route ‘A,'” he said. “If we continue to allow that, I think that it will become a black eye for the system.”

The “B” route experienced a 10 percent growth rate over 1997, while the “A” route’s growth was 3 percent.

More than 1,000 passengers used the Nifty “50” Trolley on 30 of the 81 days, compared to 18 days in 1997.

A significant reason for the 1998 increase, Powers said, was the heavy promotion of the Labor Day weekend. September’s daily average for 1998 was 85 percent higher than it was for 1997. Although the trolley system was only open half the time in September – seven days in 1998 and 14 in 1997 – the overall monthly use was up 7 percent.

The Nifty “50” Trolley program began in 1994 as a way to encourage visitors to use public transportation. While 10 percent of visitors typically use other South Shore transit systems, about 90 percent of the riders on the trolley system are visitors.

Although the SS/TMA is happy with the summer use, Powers said, the group will be looking at ways to improve the system for next year.

“We’ve experienced growth every year, but we need to make some changes or it will level out or maybe even go down,” Powers said. “We’re looking for solutions to our problems. But, if we’re going to have problems, these are the kinds we want to have, rather than not having anyone ride them.”

Nifty “50” Trolley riders

Year Riders

1994 21,432

1995 49,131

1996 58,812

1997 72,302

1998 76,170

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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